A new research paper sheds light on the way antibodies distinguish between different but closely related ‘biomarkers’ – proteins which reveal information about the condition of the human body. This new understanding could enable pharmaceutical companies to develop new technologies for quickly diagnosing and treating fatal diseases.
All diseases have proteins, or concentrations of proteins, specifically linked to them called biomarkers. Identifying these can prove a powerful diagnostic tool. These biomarkers are detected by immunoassays – a test which mixes a substance (eg blood, urine) with antibodies, which bind to the protein if it is present. The antibodies can then be measured to identify the level of the biomarker, which in turn indicates the presence and extent of an illness.